For the Sake of the Story

I’ve been making movies for a while now. Along the way I’ve seen some things: An $800 wireless mic destroyed in a sword fight Horribly early mornings Relentless traffic No vegetarian options except fried cheese, four days in a row Self-doubt Lawyers and threats of suits Layovers and missed flights Sickness, not limited to: colds, the flu, vomiting and food poison Exhaustion Yelling and screaming and hurt feelings I say this not because I believe myself to be some kind of martyr. I am certainly not. For the most part, I sit at a desk these days, going home each night to my wife and dogs. Others have given far more. I write this because in the end, your production problems are hurdles. Unless of course you’re Warner Herzog and you’re trying to move a river boat over a mountain. But for the rest of us mortals, these obstacles are a footnote.…

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United in the Fight: Films for World AIDS Day

Thirty years after the first cases of HIV, the World Health Organization estimates 35 million people worldwide are currently living with HIV/AIDS. Of these, 3.2 million are children under the age of 15. Today we commemorate World AIDS Day by remembering those who have succumbed to the virus and supporting our amazing collaborators working to treat and prevent this destructive disease. GAIA takes the medical breakthroughs of the developed world and brings them to The Far End of the Road. Their focus is one district in Malawi where 1 out of 6 adults are HIV-positive and healthcare can be hours away. AIDS and Family is Kristen Ashburn's intimate portrait of African mothers, fathers and children being crushed by AIDS. Ashburn's work connects us to these people deeply; we learn that only through such connection is hope possible.

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50 Great Documentaries

People occasionally ask me what’s the best way to become a better editor. For a long time, my stock answer was to watch a lot of movies. I think now that a more precise answer is to understand how movies work: to dissect them the way Renaissance artists dissected cadavers in order to better understand the human form.

With that in mind, here’s a list of 50 documentaries that I particularly enjoyed. The list is not a best of. And it’s far from complete. Many were produced in America and most are from the last 20 years. What these films have in common is that they are all tell great stories.

Make sure to add your favorite documentaries to the list below.



Grizzly Man
The Cove

Movies about Movies

Best Worst Movie
Burden of Dreams
Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse
Jodoroworsky’s Dune
Lost in La Mancha


Anvil! The Story of Anvil
Beware of Mr. Baker
End of the Century – The Story of the Ramones
Hoop Dreams
The Filth and The Fury
The Devil and Daniel Johnston
The Last Waltz


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Worth Clicking: “Inside Tracks” In the News

Last week we launched Inside Tracks with renowned photographer and friend to MediaStorm, Rick Smolan. This week, the story of Robyn Davidson’s 1,700 mile walk across the Australian outback and Rick’s photographs of her journey made waves around the web. Check out our favorite links and don’t forget to support Rick’s Kickstarter campaign to self-publish a stunning Smartphone enabled coffee table book based on Robyn’s legendary camel trek.


Rick Smolan’s daughter, Phoebe, interviews Robyn Davidson about her journey and the film: “Davidson told Phoebe she didn’t always get along with Phoebe’s dad. “It was essential that I do it on my own,” Davidson said. “So I gave your dad a very hard time the first few months. But then we became really good friends.” Watch more of the interview in the video above.” [TIME for Kids]

I suddenly realized that every time I left Robyn on the trip, I got the sense she was going to die. There were wild camels and snakes. She could have run out of water. Or if she ran into some nutcase out there, I mean this is the outback, there are no cops. And I was really smitten with her at the time. So while watching the movie that first time, all these emotions came flooding over me. I couldn’t enjoy the movie. Plus, I thought my character was awful. [Esquire]

“[The movie makes Robyn’s] coldness and nastiness, and my goofiness, very extreme, but I think they did a good job capturing the friendship. When you go through something like that with someone— something that is so emotionally intense—a friendship lasts a really long time,” Smolan says. “She asked me whether I wondered what would’ve happened if we’d stayed together—and I said we’d probably be divorced and hate each other now.” [National Geographic – PROOF blog]


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10 Thoughts on Filmmaking

IN PRACTICE 1. Think of music as a current. It should flow in the same emotional direction as the film itself. Imposing a mood leads to sentimentality. 2. It's natural to become enamored with specific scenes or edits. But sometimes things that work well on their own don't belong within the wider context of the film. Start with a scalpel, end with a hatchet. 3. Static, or lockoff shots, allow the viewer to observe. Shots that move allow the viewer to be part of the action. Consider the value of each. 4. Emotion is what movies do best. That’s why using text to fill story gaps always feel clunky. 5. Transcripts are vital. But they are the map, not the world. IN THEORY 6. The only way to achieve excellence is to care deeply about every part of production, including finishing. 7. Sometimes, the best way to solve a problem is to…

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